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Timbers Time: AC St. Louis Hosts Portland Wednesday Night

AC St. Louis kicks off a five game home stand Wednesday night with a match against the Portland Timbers.  The two teams have met twice this season, both times in Portland, with the Timbers winning the first matchup 3-0, and AC St. Louis coming back to steal a point in the second game in a 1-1 draw.  AC St. Louis is coming off a win Saturday against Crystal Palace Baltimore, while the Timbers are on a five game unbeaten streak.  Kickoff is at 7:10 pm CDT at AB Soccer Park.

Portland have a 7-5-5 record, good for third place in the USL Conference of USSF D2, but they only trail second place Rochester by four points and have two games in hand.  The team started out well in 2010, then hit a rough patch that coincided with a home loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore and the draw with AC St. Louis, but are back to playing well and getting results.  The Timbers are led by midfielder Ryan Pore, who continues to lead USSF D2 in the individual scoring race with eleven goals and two assists.  He, along with former LA Galaxy goalkeeper Steve Cronin, lead the team in minutes and both are the only players who’ve featured in every Timbers’ league game this season.  Six other players on Gavin Wilkinson’s Portland squad have contributed goals, but no one but Pore has found the net more than once in league play.  Wilkinson tends to change his lineup frequently, with the result being that many of the Timbers’ players have seen significant minutes this season.  Mamadou Danso, Ian Joy, Steve Purdy, Quavas Kirk and Stephen Keel have logged the most minutes on the backline, while Tony McManus, James Marcelin and Alex Nimo have seen the most minutes with Pore in the midfield.  Up top, Mandjou Keita, George Josten, Doug DeMartin and young Bright Dike have logged the most minutes.  Cronin has seven clean sheets in 17 league contests, and his GAA is 0.65.

The Timbers join the MLS next season, and on Wednesday night a coin flip will occur between them and the Vancouver Whitecaps to decide which team chooses first in either the MLS expansion or the MLS SuperDraft of rookies.  The coin toss will occur during halftime of the MLS All-Star contest featuring Manchester United, in Houston.    The winner can prioritize which draft they want to be first in.  The Timbers have also treated their fans to four international friendlies this season, featuring Puntarenas of Costa Rica,  Argentina’s Boca Juniors, Atlas of Mexico and Manchester City, at PGE Park.  The Timbers also played their hated rivals, the Seattle Sounders, at home in a US Open Cup match, with the Sounders squeaking out a win.  The Portland U-23 team is in the PDL playoffs, and the ten of the Timbers’ games are televised on Fox Sports Northwest (no, not Wednesday’s game).   Perhaps the way the Timbers treat their fans gives those of us in St. Louis something to look forward to, although we have to be patient and remember that we have a first year team, while the Timbers have been in existence, with a few breaks, since 1975.

For the expansion AC St. Louis team, getting a result is paramount on Wednesday.  The team played their best game of the season in their last home match, beating the Montreal Impact 3-0 on July 10.  After that game, the Saints embarked on a rough four game road trip, giving up a lead at Minnesota that ended in a draw, playing poorly in Austin and Montreal before salvaging the trip with a gutty win against Crystal Palace Baltimore in extreme heat.  Now, AC St. Louis begins a five game home stand, and plays eight of their next nine games at AB Soccer Park. 

 Coach Dale Schilly is glad to be at home.  “The biggest thing for us about this upcoming home stand is that we get to train regularly, which is what we miss the most,” says Head Coach Dale Schilly. “Being able to train on a regular basis is going to help us a lot.  Our team is working hard, and the guys are moving in the right direction. We have to be at our best to beat the upper echelon in this league. Hopefully Wednesday night will be that day for us.”

AC St. Louis are led in goal scoring by Mike Ambersley, who netted Saturday’s winner in Baltimore, with three goals in league play.   Luke Kreamalmeyer, Chris Salvaggione and Jeff Cosgriff have each added two goals, with Kreamalmeyer leading the team in assists.  Goalkeeper Alec Dufty has five clean sheets in league play, and two others during the US Open Cup.  Defender Dillon Barna and midfielder Salvaggione are definetely out for Wednesday’s match, and Gauchinho will also not play, having gotten a two-game suspension for his red card at Montreal according to team sources.  On- loan defender Chris Schuler, acquired from Real Salt Lake, will get his first game at AB Soccer Park. 

The AC St. Louis players are glad to returning to AB Soccer Park.   “We are all really excited to be back home,” stated team captain Jack Traynor. “The last two weeks have definitely been a grind, but being back in front of the home crowd with family and friends is something we are all looking forward to.”  Let’s all get out and support our team and start them on a run towards the playoffs.  GO AC !!!

For more info on the Timbers, check out the Dropping Timber blog,   http://www.droppingtimber.com/


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